Ways of Christ

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Main text part 1, The Gospels,
chapter :

The temptations, and calling the disciples.

Jesus had to learn too, and had to turn his human qualities to God more and more. After 40 days fasting in the desert the "Tempter *" appeared (e.g. Matthew 4, 1-11).

Even in "normal" life negative powers appear, both inwardly and in everyday life. They can also be looked on as something with form, i.e. as real entities. First of all, there are retarded and isolated tendencies in humans themselves - when active without the connecting heart; these isolated thoughts and subsequently isolated will is one meaning of "eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge" (Genesis).

On one hand these are hardening qualities that bind us to practical constraints and because these qualities are more deeply anchored in the unconscious , they are the last things to be fully overwhelmed. But it is possible however, to do something about it and to recognize its nature. A conscious ability to renounce and be able to have instead of a "must have", and a creative and ethical dealing with it is training in overcoming these negative forces.

On the other hand, the opposite wishes lead to escaping from physical problems and to indifferent and scornful "taking off" into spiritual areas. We sometimes overlook the fact that this is only the other side of the same "negative" coin, - related to the other side, just like a pendulum swinging in both directions. This second area is already more open today and therefore easier to clear up. One way of changing this is through compassion, a free giving of love. A further quality to be found in connection with both would be combined with greed for power. Changing this illusion requires the courage of unconditional truthfulness, the tolerance based on that and free solidarity in all contact with others.

Generally in all such fields a strong but - in spite of that - altruistic individuality of concerned people that could fill these areas is missing, instead of the tendencies slipping into negative extremes.

In Matthew 4 Jesus is exposed to these three distracting impulses, here named "Satan" or "Devil". He does not refer simply to the respective opposite, but reaches for something beyond the oscillations of the various negative tendencies. What he does, is based on "the word of God", on "God the Lord", and "worshiping and serving him exclusively". Christ is beyond the duality of darkness and (apparent) light and overcomes both through his third, superior way, as many further events also show.

Short annotation: It is often wrongly written that the Zarathustrian (Zoroastrian, Parsee) religion and Christianity and/or "the middle east religions" are dualistic. This is not fully correct with respect to their origins. (You can find more information on the extra page "Zarathustra")

R.Steiner described the two main negative principles as separate entities as they can both be experienced in the world of spiritual visions. As mentioned, although it may be useful to consider both effects, outside of this kind of experience it is not completely justified for anthroposophists to think that Christian ideas of a single negative being do not include both sides. The tendencies are also often so mixed that "anti-divine" tendencies can be treated as a whole. The contrary should not be seen as several Gods, but the God of Christ with all related qualities… There are, however, other spiritual branches of thought that close one eye and regard every spiritual tendency as divine.

Both modern protestant theologians and some other spiritual thinkers close both eyes and explain ideas of negative beings away, reasoning, for instance, that they only occur in a few places in the Bible. They overlook the fact that these are not just considerations, but solid experiences.
Some smaller Christian groups thought, the term "prince of the world" - e.g. John 14:30 - would mean,  the world "belongs" to him for a long time, and man could only overcome his influence. But the New Testament describes only his tempting and usurping role. See John 12:31 too.

Without fears and other negative feelings, negative forces do not have any direct power. "Not to paint the devil onto the wall" (German idiom), not thinking the worst can also work as a protecting mechanism - even against ecclesiastical scaremongering. Today, spiritual perception could show that supposed "increases" in negative circuits represent hidden potential that has been lying dormant there for a long time . Really positive abilities on the other hand can still grow, even though they grow towards an archetype that also already exists.

However, such personal "sore points" can also represent a point of response for similar external forces. Traces of this can be found in all societies, e.g. – in the west in situations in which money and egotism are considered to be of the highest value - especially in the old form without any type of social system; in the possible one-sidedness of nationalism and fascism, this is especially true wherever there was arrogance and indifference to the rest of the world; in destructive "religious" activities and in the extremes of Stalinism, specifically in its brutal rule over a faceless society. But this is not a condemnation of everything and everybody in such societies.

Jesus does not teach so much to directly "oppose evil" nor does he maintain the necessity of evil for the sake of a "balance" (as some eastern schools think). He also sees no absolute necessity for negative forces in order to recognize the divine good. Not even some - often necessary - direct psychical processing of negative qualities is necessary for everyone. For some people at least, a way like the "Christian Science" generally recommended by Mary Baker-Eddy can work. That does not prove, however, that negative forces do not exist; but they can be indirectly changed through that. With Christ there is also no eternal damnation. All destructive forces can be converted in the end, up to the time of the last chapter of St. John´s revelation, promising that darkness will cease to exist (cf. the chapter "The New Earth"....

After those experiences in the desert Jesus called the disciples (John 1, Matthew 4, 18 - 22, Matthew 10).

* Again in the story of the Temptations, theology traditionally considers the symbolic connection with the history of mankind: the desert with its dangerous animals is seen as the antithesis of the world of Adam’s paradise handed down to us and therefore as a condition that needs to be overcome by Jesus as the "new Adam". In the first Temptation, turning stones into bread, the story deals with the question of whether the Material or God should play the leading role. (Later, in stories dealing with the feeding and awakening of a great mass of people, we no longer see it as a temptation.) In the second Temptation, to jump from the roof of the temple, the story deals with overcoming pride concerning the burdens of human life. Jesus went through everything that was imposed upon him (until it was dissolved by the Resurrection). The third Temptation deals with the power of existing worldly kingdoms, or the God-given "kingdom of heaven". (In the further course, however, the worldly relevant, predicted "kingdom of peace" could also bring about the conversion of worldly striving for power by God.)


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